“Fighting African swine fever in the EU represents an extreme and urgent challenge,” EU Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen told Reuters in an email. Recent outbreaks of African swine fever have threatened Bulgaria’s pig breeding industry and could have devastating ramifications for the EU pork market.
10 EU nations have confirmed outbreaks of ASF, Bulgaria and Romania are thought to be the most affected. Reuters also reports that two additional outbreaks of ASF have been confirmed in Moldova. ASF has also moved into Central Europe – Slovakia confirmed the presence of the disease in four backyard farms in July.
Bulgaria has reported more than 30 outbreaks of the disease at both industrial and backyard farms. Reuters reports that around 130,000 pigs have been culled as a result. Briefings from the European Food Safety Agency report that the disease is spreading among wild boar.
The situation “is very worrying,” Itkonen told a media briefing on Thursday, urging action against a “catastrophic animal disease” which industry officials in Bulgaria fear could cause damages of up to 2 billion levs (£942.9 million).
The EU’s head of health and food safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, offered EU support to Bulgaria when he met the country’s agriculture minister Desislava Taneva on Tuesday.
Bulgaria will receive 2.9 million euros (£2.67 million) in EU financial aid to combat the disease, Taneva said.